Ocean Pollution

Florida bans the intentional release of balloons

Florida has banned the intentional release of balloons thanks to the efforts of Governor DeSantis signing House Bill 321 into law - a big win for protecting ocean wildlife, Florida's coasts, communities and businesses that depend on a healthy ocean.

Written by Oceanographic Staff
Photographs by Brian Yurasits & Naja Bertolt Jensen via Ocean Image Bank

Balloons and their plastic ribbons, tie-off disks, clips, and other attachments can be easily ingested and swallowed by endangered sea turtles, seabirds, and other ocean wildlife. Studies show balloons ranked among the deadliest ocean trash for key wildlife and are the deadliest form of plastic debris for seabirds. To counteract this negative trend, Florida House lawmakers passed House Bill 321 in March 2024, which bans the intentional release of balloons and classifies released balloons as litter. Shortly after, the Senate passed the bill, which will go into effect July 1, 2024.

“It’s a great day for Florida’s coastlines and ocean wildlife,” commented Hunter Miller, Oceana‘s Florida Field Campaigns Manager. “Oceana applauds the state legislature for passing House Bill 321 and Governor DeSantis for signing the bill into law. The new law bans the intentional release of balloons and is a bipartisan win for Florida’s key coastal economies.”

He added: “While releasing balloons is sometimes used for celebrations, Floridians can opt for greener choices like bubbles, kites, planting trees, or making memorial gardens. Our elected officials should continue to come together to adopt new policies to stop the plastic pollution crisis at the source so Floridians and visitors can appreciate our stunning state without it being marred by plastic waste.”

While Oceana applauded the state legislature for passing the balloon release ban, the organisation noted that it is imperative that state lawmakers build on this progress and continue to tackle the plastic pollution crisis. Plastics are polluting the oceans and harming public health and tourism-based economies. The solution is to stop the problem at its source by reducing the amount of plastic produced and used.

In July 2022, Oceana released a Florida statewide poll revealing that 87% of Florida voters support local, state, and national policies that reduce single-use plastic. Included among the key findings: 92% of registered Florida voters are concerned about single-use plastic products and 91% are concerned about plastic pollution and its impact on the environment.

Scientists estimate that 33 billion pounds of plastic wash into the ocean every year. That equates to about two garbage trucks’ worth of plastic entering the ocean every minute. Plastic has been found in every corner of the world and has turned up in drinking water, beer, salt, honey, and more.

It’s also one of the greatest contributors to climate change. In fact, if plastic were a country, it would be the fifth-largest emitter of greenhouse gases in the world. With plastic production growing at a rapid rate, increased amounts of plastic can be expected to flood our blue planet with devastating consequences.

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Written by Oceanographic Staff
Photographs by Brian Yurasits & Naja Bertolt Jensen via Ocean Image Bank

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